Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My First Peter Pig Miniatures

My friend Rich introduced my old club to Peter Pig Miniatures years ago and I've been curious since then to try painting them up. They're imports from Great Britain and more expensive than my go-to Old Glory's so for some time I had stuck with penny wise and as a result had amassed a good pile of 15mm Old Glory French and American troops in 15mm. Some are pretty nicely sculpted and some are just a bit off, but en masse they look acceptable.

Peter Pig on L, Battlefront on R
Now that some Granite staters are considering Disposable Heroes in 15mm scale I've "needed" to add an individually mounted company of Americans to the crew. My Old Glorys don't hold up to individual examination so I clearly Needed to order some new Peter Pigs from Hobby Bunker. They arrived in no time and I got to painting.

I've been very happy with these miniatures so far. They paint up easily, their poses are appealing, and there's a good variety of figures supplied. It's hard to do poorly when you're painting Americans as their color scheme is about as simple as it gets. Once you finish with a Citadel wash the minis look pretty decent. I may Need to get more.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Looking Ahead for the Next Boardgame

The boardgame world has changed pretty dramatically in the years since I started blogging. At one point there were maybe a half dozen well produced euro or indy games and a big pile of rubbish. You owned a Catan game, Ticket to Ride, and filled out your collection with some random Knizia game and Munchkin. Now there are new titles coming out monthly and while some rubbish continues to accumulate there are many more excellent games that get lost in the crowd. At this moment I'm looking at my gaming shelf and for each 7 Wonders that I've actually played a good number of times there's Camelot Legends, Okko, Yggdrasil, and Lord of the Rings Card Game, all sadly underplayed and deserving better. My first resolution for the year may be to actually try Fewer games, and instead get more play from the ones I own.

Having said that, there are a few things coming down the pike that I'm looking forward to trying.

Old School Fun
Moongha Invaders: Ever since I played Crush, Crumble, and Chomp in my friend Alexis' basement I've been keeping an eye out for good giant monster games. Sadly, none have really delivered the thrills the way Crush did. Lacking a computer that can load games from cassette tape I've been forced to keep searching for alternatives. I ordered Moongha through Kickstarter and we shall see how things pan out. It's designed by Martin Wallace which can mean either very good or very lame.

Sake and Samurai: I'm a sucker for theme, which has not always been the best guide for a game (cough cough Dungeon Lords...), and this one has plenty. Samurai sit around and alternate drinking with swordplay. The winner is the best drinker or the best fighter I believe. If you're defeated you return to the game as a thirsty ghost. Or a ghost of thirst. How could this Not be a great game?

Relic: There's an old game called Talisman that is entertaining, old school, and kind of silly. You go on fantasy quests, you can be turned into a toad, and you cart around vast amounts of treasure and helpful sidekicks. It's completely inelegant in design. Still: toad, treasure, sidekicks. And it requires about 90% less concentration than just about every other modern boardgame. Now Relic promises to do Talisman but in the loopy Warhammer 40K universe. Are there space toads in Relic? Assuming they retain the "like Munchkin if Munchkin was actually fun" quality of Talisman this could be a big hit.

Looking Ahead for the Next Big Wargaming Thing

A few gaming items have popped up as possibly interesting for the next year. Let's go down the list:

Buy Us!
Little Britons: I've grown to really admire the toy soldier esthetic, but not the prices. Happily, Spencer Smith Miniatures and designer Aly Morrison have released a line of cute, traditional, and relatively cheap toy soldiers with a lot of potential. I'll be curious to watch the line grown, and I'll be putting some thought into what you could do with these awesome figures.

The War of the Austrian Succession: This conflict combines obscurity, great uniforms, lots of troop types, and a line of affordable miniatures (again, thanks Spencer Smith!). Add in lots of possible rule sets, plus colorful personalities and oodles of exciting locations for battles. On the downside, I would be the only person in a thousand mile radius building these armies. So a great new setting or another addition to the mountain of unpainted lead?

Solitaire Gaming: Sad and pathetic but true- there are not always historical gamers in the area who are up for a game. I've been looking into Decision Point Games and Dan Verssen Games as sources of some fun solitaire games.On the plus side it keeps me from obsessively playing Race for the Galaxy on Board Game Arena. On the minus side it provides just another obsession unrelated to cleaning the house.

Battlegroup Kursk: This is a new set of rules by Warwick Kinrade that's been pretty well received by the Meeples and Miniatures crowd. What I've seen so far appears well written and brings a certain "this is basically a game which we are playing for fun so relax please" quality which I really look for these days. Tanks run out of ammo, rare vehicles are actually rare, and historical formations are encouraged. This may be the net rule set to look at.

Looking Ahead at Projects

As the year winds up I'm thinking about what 2013 may hold for gaming. Here are a few thoughts for upcoming projects.

I've decided to do a Funny Little Wars and Commands and Colors Napoleonics game for Huzzah this Spring. Last year's C&C game was easy to run, moved smoothly and quickly, and seemed to be a big hit with the players. This year I may try and run both Salamanca scenarios back to back. It seems as though I already own all the lead I need for the additional Portuguese troops so I won't even need to do more shopping. Pity.

Funny Little Wars is a light toy soldier themed game and the folks at Huzzah have agreed to make an entire room available for the setting. FLW is ideally played in a back yard or garden but I don't expect Maine in May to be exactly balmy so we'll settle for a big room. It seems as though I already own quite a few 54mm figures for FLW so I won't have to buy more of those either. On the other hand I still need to build lots of 54mm cute European terrain so my wife will not be disappointed by a lack of hobby gear littering the kitchen and living room.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Tale of Two Games

Last week the local club experimented with a big Flames of War game and also with some FoW alternatives. I'd given up on FoW a while ago but the aftermaths of the games were telling.

I took part in a four player scenario of Disposable Heroes. This is a miniatures game designed to allow a few squads to fight it out, maybe with some armor support. We had Germans with a morter and Panzer IV advancing to take territory from Americans with some light support weapons and bazookas. The first two turns absolutely dragged as we re-learned the rules for firing, artillery, and the like. After that the game sped along nicely. In hindsight several things were notable. The first is that there were no real arguments of squabbles at the table. There were some rules ambiguities and questions that were probably crystal clear if only we could have found them. Nevertheless we muddled on through to everyone's satisfaction. Secondly, everything in the game flowed in a relatively historically accurate manner. The tank blazed away at troops in ruins but mainly acted as a well protected machine gun. Its main gun would have been effective against armor but had no role in this setting. Finally, squads acted most effectively in groups, with one pinning the enemy in order to allow the others to move without attracting defensive fire.

Awaiting the American Charge
I did not attend the Flame of War game, although several of the other players did. The highlight for me has been a week long flurry of angry emails between the players arguing over rules, how the game was played, and whether it was balanced. These emails have included exhortations for Allied players to charge German tanks as a good tactic and suggestions that since masses of King Tigers can be defeated they are thus not unrealistic. Now I know that whenever I want the experience of my own head spinning I can go ahead and imagine actual tank commanders charging their Shermans at a line of Panthers, hoping to get close enough for flank shots.

Poking fun at Flames of War is really cheap humor at best, because it's so clearly not historically accurate and really isn't intended to be. Still, it's so very very hard to resist. At a less snarky level I was once again very happy with Disposable Heroes. Further, we used 15mm figures and that worked perfectly. I already own rather a few 15mm vehicles and a quick phone call to the Hobby Bunker got me a platoon of American Peter Pig infantry. I'm very much looking forward to our next game, assuming the FoW flame war doesn't get out of hand.